For Immediate Release
Aga Khan Announces the East African Community’s First Regional University to be based in Arusha
The Ismaili leader made the announcement on Saturday, August 18th, during an official dinner hosted in his honour by Tanzania’s President, His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.
The Aga Khan said the decision to build the Arusha campus represented the biggest expansion move for the Aga Khan University – AKU – since it opened its first campus in Karachi, Pakistan, nearly 25 years ago. He stressed that the decision to erect a new campus in Arusha stemmed from his faith in the future of the East African Region.
“We hope that the University will be a source of effective leadership for the East Africa of tomorrow,” he said. Arusha is the official seat of the East African Community which includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
The Tanzanian President praised the Aga Khan’s development efforts in his country and described the specific decision to build the Arusha campus as “good news for us.” The Tanzanian President thanked the Aga Khan for coming to Tanzania during his first Golden Jubilee trip as the Ismaili Imam. “Your deep attachment to our country has always been a source of pride and inspiration for us,” he said.
Tanzania was the second leg of the Aga Khan’s trip to East Africa – his first visit to the region since he completed 50 years as the Ismaili Imam on July 11th. Last week, the Ismaili leader visited Kenya where he announced a US$ 250 million project to create an AKU faculty of health sciences in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
“The Arusha and Nairobi projects of the Aga Khan University together represent a US $ 700 million investment in tertiary education in East Africa. The Aga Khan emphasised that the expansion of the Aga Khan University was a logical consequence of the Aga Khan Development Network’s investment in primary and secondary education. “Each forward step must lead to new steps,” he said.
Earlier on Saturday the Aga Khan visited the Island of Zanzibar –home to one of East Africa’s oldest Ismaili communities and the site of the region’s most ancient Ismaili jamatkhana (community prayer hall).
During an official luncheon hosted by Zanzibar’s President His Excellency Abeid Amani Karume, the Ismaili leader described Zanzibar as a “cultural jewel” and expressed readiness to invest in rehabilitation of the Island’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, concentrated in the Old Stone Town.
In Zanzibar, the Aga Khan was enthusiastically greeted by the Island’s small but vibrant Ismaili community. On Friday, the Aga Khan met the members of the Ismaili community in Dar-es-Salaam, including thousands of community members from East Africa and visitors from around the world.
On Sunday, the Aga Khan arrived in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, where he met with the country’s President Yoweri Museveni. He is scheduled to return to Dar-es-Salaam on Monday for another encounter with Tanzania’s President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.